Open-Minded or Gullible?

Since recently joining this discussion group I have learned a few interesting things, reevaluated some of my opinions (biwireing), and marveled at a most astonishing collection of quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo. (Sorry about that).

Because I really would like to pick up some useful information, I need to have a feel for the degree of credibility to be given to comments made here. Should I really run out and spend $2000 on speaker cables because someone says they sound good?

I have suggested that we all have a limit to what we think might be true, or at least worth a try. Some, like me, are conservative: for example I believe that loudspeakers and phono pickups improve with initial use, but not wires. Others are more open-minded/gullible (you pick the word). I made an attempt to determine how "far out" the Audiogon opinion spectrum extends by asking a question that I thought would be near the limit.
"Do you think that reversing the direction of a cartridge fuse can affect sound quality?" Apparently not far enough!

8 of 17 people who responded to this question (some made other comments) think that reversing a fuse would (or could) make a difference.

What question should I ask next. Do granite shelves of equipment racks need breakin? I already know that some say yes. Does the air in the listening room need breakin? I don't dare ask. Instead why not have you guys tell me (us) where you draw the line, with a few examples near that line which you accept and reject.

Please no one take offense. I don't care what you choose to believe, and you ought to be proud to state your position.
The fuse one had me laughing for weeks.
This week someone posted what had to be a spoof classified ad for a CD player (I think) that he raved about. The highlight of his ad copy was that for the first time he heard Diana Krall inhale with a booger in her nose. I'm not kidding. I guess that's passed my limit.
Neat question. The fuse thing might be true. I don't know what you are talking about. As for all the rest - granite break in/cable break in are totally illogical and unmeasurable... However, that does not exclude those that ... feel... the difference.

The cable mafia can thank their money god placebo affect is real.
What??!!!!!!!!! Diana has snots???!!!!!!!

I thought I heard Jacintha fart. Or was that William Shatner?
Hah! My system will resolve which nostril contained the booger. It was the left.
I've never been able to understand people with good audio systems and presumably good ears who have NOT heard cables going through break-in. Every cable I've had, especially power cords, goes through an almost predictable sequence of initially being anemic with hashy bright highs, no bass, no dynamics and very limited fine detail or nuance, to a state of normal sound. Usually it takes 10-50 hours, with fine detail and chromatic nuance being a late stage. If somehow you are not hearing this, then either your system is not revealing, your cables are zip cord, or something else is going on. I'm a pure scientist/engineer type and I've got no problem with this. If you're hearing different results, I'd be interested in knowing. There's certainly no religion in it.

And of course you shouldn't spend $2000 or anything else on cables until you hear them and decide that they make enough difference in your system to be worth it to you. But do take some time to listen. Or make your's more fun.

I'm one that made other comments. My official vote is that no, reversing a fuse does not make a difference although cleaning it would. A lot of the stuff that I snicker at may actually make a difference in a very revealing system but my system seems to be immune from most tweaks. I believe that it is system dependent although some of the stuff seems to be way out there, maybe. One fact remains; everything is a tone control.
Best advice is to make your own judgement by direct experience in your system, in your space, with your ears and your music (as Flex suggests).

Here are some humorous links for y'all on this subject:

Ultimate Power Supply for Sale on Audiogon This one ends soon so the link is only good for a limited time.

The Ultimate Tweak I wrote this one to blow off steam on the same subject matter. A bit lude so don't read it if you're not flexible in that regard. You have been warned.

Hey Marco, how's the photgraphy going?!

I think our friend in the UK has a point about using nuke power instead of fossil fuel, but I'm in the middle of reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and think anti-matter is far better, hahah.

First, we're hearing Diana's boggies, and now you can feel Jacintha's sweat beads?! Wow, I need more tweaks in my system.

Have you applied for a patent yet? ROTFLMAO
Lugnut - I'm still seaking out a supplier for solid maple broom handles. Patent is pending.

Gunbei - I got yer' tweaks right here buddy!! Photo biz is still pretty slow up here in the Pacific Northwet. How's LA treating the commercial design community?

Hey Marco, I've been super swamped with diva actress retouching here in LA. I've been logging so much overtime on Strong Medicine, Ricki Lake and Pyramid that I was able to indulge my latest attack of upgrade-itis. I'm one of the few lucky ones, because as you know our industry is hurting big time right now.

I'm more gullible than open-minded. I'll try anything six times.
I remember years ago people saying that reversing the polarity of a plug made a difference, or that resistors and caps sound different depending on orientation. Sometimes things that sound crazy turn out to be true when actually tested. I have tried the fuse trick and it does make a difference. The easiest way is if you have monoblocks, simply do one, and then listen to something live, and hear what happens to the soundstage.

Good listening
I draw the line at the 1/4" by 1" bits of aluminum foil affixed to records, tapes, CDs, electronics, whatever. What a bunch of @#$%&
I would be happy to answer the question, can you give me a minute to consult my magic eight ball?

Just read the ultimate tweak. About the funniest damn thing i ever read!
Is it the reversing of the fuse, or the fact that the fuse contacts are improved when the fuse is pulled and reinstalled ? When the fuse was put back to its original orientation did the sound get worse ?

BTW the air in the listening room breaks in much faster if one drank quite a lot of beer the nigth before.
Quite a few have mentioned cleaning the fuse holder contacts. It is a scientific fact that contacts have resistance, but in practice the contact resistance of the fuse/holder is probably less than the fuse itself, and unlikely to change by removal/reinstalation of the fuse. IMHO, if the fuse holder is bad enough to make a difference you may have serious corrosion problems elsewhere in your gear.

Lets not get hung up on fuses. How about other tweeks?
Jax2 - Loved the ultimate tweak. One question, the base is maple but does it matter what the broomstick was made from? I assume it was wood so my fiberglass composite handled stick won't work though, perhaps, it may be smoother.
I was quite sceptical about the Aurios Media isolation bearing "thingys" until I popped a trio of 1.2's under my Sony SCD-1. I heard a very different presentation...I was pulled into a much more believable soundstage. I concluded I was a victim of "tweaker's disease", so I removed them and tried again. No doubt about it, the grunge was back, with a noticeable reduction in depth and realism. Popped the Aurios back under the SCD-1, and concluded that there's something to this isolation thing.

I'm a rather logical guy with a decent education, and I'm not quite sure why placing that 65 lb. player on bearings yielded the effect it did. Truth is, now the SCD-1 wobbles around a bit when the top door opens or you push the power button when it's on the Aurios, and this type of "instability" strikes me as a bad thing, yet, I heard what I heard.

What the hell? I've bought more to place under my ECD-1 Dac!

Crazy Tweak? I dunno....
Wstritt- Go for the maple, it may take a bit of extra time sanding and a bit more vaseline, but the sonic results will be worth the extra effort. Oh, and if you'll check out my response to the thread you started here you'll see that using this tweak led to yet another discovery which I'll be advertising soon in Stereophile!

Marco - Just saw it. Question is, what electronics to drive them?

Here's a list of what I believe will make sonic changes:

Dedicated AC
Power cords
Lead vs. sand vs. other weighting products
Shelf materials
Room treatments
Dust cover off vs. on
Tube rolling
Impedance matching

There are more. The obvious are speaker placement and equipment location. Looking at the list I guess I'm a believer to a certain extent. The fuse thing...NOT.
Wstritt - That's the beauty of these babies, you don't need no stinkin' 'lectricity! Just some baked beans, dried fruit, and your favorite carbonated beveredge and you will not believe how those cheeks will vibrate! Those Radio Shack sound level meters don't even go that low (though down in that range everything is pretty advertised, it'll stay tight down to 35hz, but watch out when they get down below that...things get messy). When I was doing some testing I actually melted my sound meter, but that's not a pretty story! You won't make any new friends using these wonders, but, hey, it's a lonely hobby as we all know.

The Ultimate Tweak---a superb piece of writing!!!! Well done!! Thanks.
I noticed when i set my Star Wars Boba-Fett action figure on the amplifier with his arms down, it produces no noticable effect, however, when i raise his arms up, it made some improvement. Then i decided to give him his Pistol and Rifle, and noticed a strengthening of the bass with tighter punch, but the mids seemed thin, but when i took replaced his rifle with his other pistol and everything sounded smooth, clean, and tight.

I've been messing around with a dead raccoon as well, what i did was lay it over the speaker cables and it seemed to bring out a little more warmth. Of course, this tweak is only lasts as long as the carcass. And sometimes the smell started to get to me, so i tweaked my nose with some vix vaper-rub and it seemed to lessen the burden of the stench.
My current raccoon set is almost used up, i need to go get some fresh ones here soon.

I also have been experimenting with a tweak that might seem a little strange. I replaced the fuses with carrots with a copper wire fed through them. I then removed all the internal circut boards from the chassis and hung them up with fishing twine. That seemed to result in a little broader soundstage and the highs seemed a little bit more refined.

Well, thats my tweaks. I'd like to hear some more of yours! :)
I don't think that you need to spend $2k on a pair of speaker cables just because someone says they sound good. But you might find if you try a pair, that you may wind up buying them because YOU think that they sound good. It has happened to many others. It is likely that every other person that has bought expensive cables has doubted the possibility that they could be worth the investment. But in many cases, the cables were bought because they actually did make the system sound better. There are very few audiophiles that are interested in dropping big bucks for no improvement. Just the sheer percentage of audiophiles that are using upscale cables says quite a bit about their viability. Healthy skepticism is just fine, but the proof is in the listening. As I've been known to say in jest, "I don't care if they have a hamster running in a wheel inside the thing. As long as it sounds better, I'm satisfied". However, I'd prefer not to have to feed the hamster.

Regarding the gullibility issue. This is a market with many types of people, but nearly all prefer to spend less money if they can get the same result for less. If a product doesn't do what it is supposed to do, it will not make it in the market. There are a few who will buy for status alone, but they are not enough to keep any company alive for long. It has to work well, and if it doesn't, it is doomed. There is no mass hypnosis happening in the audiophile world. It either works well or not. I'm sure that there is some level of "power of suggestion" involved in some of this, but when it comes to spending big dollars it has to be real, or there is no sale. Remember, they don't have to buy these products. They have to hear something that makes them want the product. And it has to be good enough to make them get out the wallet and spend a couple of G-notes. If you ever spent any time in a high end audio store as a salesman, you'd know that customers are not eager to buy anything that isn't a very noticeable gain for their system. They will be very quick to tell you that they don't hear the value of that product, and then you can forget selling it to them. Contrary to popular opinion, audiophiles are not running around trying to find useless items to spend tons of money on. I really don't think they are gullible at all. And for the reversing polarity on a fuse question, it costs nothing to do it, so many would be willing to try it. So what if it does nothing? It costs nothing. But when it comes to spending money, that is a whole different story.

Now I agree that some people will buy some useless items because they heard some change, and thought at first it sounded better, and then discovered that it was just different, and maybe not better. That is the way of the world. But, by and large, the consumer will make a fairly balanced decision about what is better and what is not. Audiophiles are typically successful people who have made money, and are not stupid. So if a large number of them are using certain products or technologies, it is fairly certain that they do work. Whether these products are worth the money to you is a different matter. Only you can decide that.
Some ideas and products are legitimate while others are not.

Sometimes the legitimacy is there, but there's simply no way an inferior system can reveal such benefit. Hence the illusion that it's snake oil.

Therefore, just to be all-encompassing and open-minded, you might consider adding the terms 'close-minded', 'inferior-system', 'deception', and 'self-deception' to your question above.

what KIND of fuses?

just kidding

I draw the line at raising wire off the floor even though I can believe the reasoning I just do not know (or care?) if I can hear the difference.
I'm NOT gullible. Excuse me, I'm off to get my Bobba Fett action figure!
Good humorous thread. Thanks to Marco, after building my own Maple broomstick platform, I too have found Nirvana in my system and can finally hear that elusive booger in Diana Krall's left nostril. What a thrilling experience. My wife even gets choked up when we listen to the booger move. I did try a slight modification to the broomstick. I coated the broomstick with a special teflon coating and not only does it insert easier, but further protects from RFI/EMI entering the "orifice".
Glad folks enjoy the humor in the Ultimate Tweak. Thanks for the compliment Rlxl. Wish I had the disipline to write more since I always enjoy it when I do. Do check out my response to the iPod thread...I think you might enjoy that too if you liked the Ultimate Tweak. I'm still laughing at Slappy's revelation! Hey slappy did you try putting some vaseline on that Boba-Fett action figure and attaching him to the end of a broomstick on a maple stand and see what happens! A bit of epoxy ought to do it!

Tom, on a more serious note; I enjoyed your post. I don't know if being sucessful and smart makes one immune to the Power of Cheese as it were. Advertising thrives on smart successful people and I'd guess the majority of Audiophiles (rather the audio buying public at large) are not on this list and do not educate themselves as well as they could. When it comes down to it, oh so many people don't trust their own judgement when they think others know better. But I agree with you completely in that your own ears are the best judge and it doesn't matter what's producing the sound as long as it works for you. I think being gullible is not necessarily foiled by being smart or successful. There are plenty of mediochre products that survive out there, and plenty of examples of $2000 power cords made with $120 of materials and driven by tens of thousands in advertising and hype. Those companies seem to be surviving and thriving as well. Furthermore I've known many people, especially those with a whole lot of money, who are all too willing to purshase items (with very minimal knowledge and questionable guideance) solely to put on display the depth of their pockets and their good taste (again, don't know that many are on this list, but I'm sure there are some). It's the American Way after all...Keep up with the Jones's...well actually it is more realisticly "Show-up" the Jones's!

PS I need to order some more of that special Hamster feed you make for the amp you sold me. I'm running out and those little guys are burning it off real quick! I just got paid, so I'm going to take the Deluxe TWL Hamster Feed this time!

It's in her LEFT nostril? I must have an interconnect or speaker cable flopped because her snot flapping sounds a bit like its to the right of center stage.
Gunbei - yeah, right of center stage, if she is facing you, IS her left nostril. Your cables are fine!

Oh...So does that make her on the driver or passenger side?
Hey, HEY! Stop it about my fair Diana. I do not want to envision her singing with snot in her nose "When I Look in Your Eyes" especially on my SACD version. What? It is not that song? I can't get the picture out of my head!
You guys are snot very nice.

Without Regards,
Marco, I read your Ultimate Tweak and gave it a shot. Man, you will hear your music again for the first time if you opt for KY instead of Vaseline. I bet the new "heated" kind is like a system-wide upgrade.
I try to maintain an open mind, but, I draw the line at belts and clocks.
Belts and clocks?
4yanx- If you liked The Ultimate Tweak, you will want to consider my new product line which is quickly gathering steam. Read about it in this thread. Make sure to scroll down the thread and read all my posts to learn about the entire product line! It is soon to be a Stereophile Class A Reference, I guarantee it! Meanwhile I'll give that KY Heated stuff a try tonight! Thanks for the HOT TIP!

Slappy, I must be showing my age. Some years ago a fellow by the name of Peter Belt in Great Britin claimed to have special charged little rubber belts that one placed around ones room to improve sound. Around the same time Tice marketed a little Radio Shack clock that had been specialy "treated" and if plugged into a common circuit would improve sound. Of course there are believers in exotic wood and stones too.
Some people might consider audiophilia to be the most anal hobby... actually they consider audiophiles to be the most anal... well... anal is no longer just a derogatory adjective in terms of all things audio. Thanks to Marco, we now know "anal-ing" is audio nirvana... or the last evolutionary step for us audiophiles is to become a kabob.
The "Tice" clock: you bought one for $600. amd PUT IT IN THE SAME ROOM AS YOUR SYSTEM.
Folks swore by them. (back in the late 1980's?)
(now we have $30 wall warts to clean up the A/C lines all over.
The 'belts" never heard of ceptin' Cd outer rings???
My current favorite B.S. audiophile crap is "Shakti Stones" a glass? jar filled with special quasi-magical stones! they sit on your stuff and make it sound extra special.
I personally can attest that breakin, wire and interconnect differences and some powercord differences exist.
Thanks Viggen....what a nice thought....but I was thinking; I'd kinda like to be thought of as the one who put the "anal" in analogue!


If analogue is to anal, then digital is to finger?
This is the funniest thread I've ever read.
Elizabeth, no, Peter Belts belts were not "CD rings". My memory is a little foggy on all this, but I think Peter Belt was more of an analog guy.
Viggen, analogue:anal/digital:finger has me ROTFLOLWTIME.
Hey Viggen & 4yanx - you've given me a great idea for a name for my invention. I'm re-submitting the papers to the patent office today. I'm going to call it "The Rectal Fire". What do you guys think?

Marco you may have to apply for a ™ or ® instead, because Rectal Fire has been a well practiced ritual in my life for many years.

The frustrating thing is that it always seems to be totally random and incredibly violent. One case of it which still causes an involuntary pucker is when I was stuck in customs re-entering the US and waiting for my luggage to pop out of the baggage claim shoot. The Rectal Fire started to rise, but I was in a roped off area with a bunch of unfriendly looking US Customs officers that I'm sure wouldn't let me use the john because who knows what I might be trying to get rid of. Baggage from a Korean Airlines flight somehow got in front of ours and I thought for sure that good ol' Montezuma was going to make a messy guest appearance for all us weary travelers returning from Cabo.

Luckily he never rose out of the Rectal Fire but died down into a whimpering, simmering gurgle during my long cab ride home.